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Basem Wasef

Brammo's Empulse: 100+ MPH, 121 City Mile Range, $17,000 (!)

By May 9, 2012

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Brammo Empulse

We can only speculate about the future of electric motorcycles. But as of 2012, one thing is certain: you'll have to pay a premium for cutting edge battery-powered bikes.

Two years ago, Brammo's Empulse promised 100 mph and 100 miles of range for under $10,000. But last night, at the bike's official unveiling in Hollywood, California, the much-anticipated Empulse proved surprisingly pricey: $16,995, or $18,995 for a carbon-fiber skinned "R" version. Both bikes pack a 9.31 kWh battery producing the equivalent of 54 horsepower, and a six-speed manual transmission with a hydraulic clutch.

Regenerative braking helps the 100+ mph Empulse claim a 121 mile city range or 56 miles on the highway, for a combined estimate of 77 miles; in contrast, Zero's most powerful S model is just behind the Empulse with an estimated 114 miles in the city, or 63 miles on the highway, with a maximum speed of 88 mph, or 75 mph sustained. The Zero comes with a $13,995 premium, a full $3,000 less than the Brammo.

Are internal combustion bikes in imminent danger of becoming obsoleted by electric motorcycles? Not yet, at least with this sort of pricing... but I've got a new Zero S I'm testing at the moment, and will soon offer my thoughts on whether or not this new crop of battery-powered rides are worth the premium.


Photo © Basem Wasef

May 9, 2012 at 6:34 pm
(1) Pete says:

$17,000 ??!! GAG!!
Who in their right mind would drop that kind of cash to ride back & forth to work….’cause that’s about all it’s good for.
17 large will buy you a nice (real) motorcycle, insure it and maintain for at least 2 or 3 years.
“Yo…rich tree huggers…over here…Brammo saw you coming!!”

May 9, 2012 at 11:07 pm
(2) Nicolai Tesla says:

Naysayers are easy to find.
Pricing is tough – it’s not competitive in terms of specs with either a $17k sportbike, or even a run-of-the-mill 600, but new technology always starts this way. Brammo is doing good stuff with this, especially the 6-speed. I’ll be interested to read reviews.

Pete – one day all the petroleum will be gone. Should we wait till then to think about our options?

May 10, 2012 at 9:06 am
(3) Pete says:

Yes I know who Tesla was…
Don’t mistake my ‘nay saying’ and disdain for a lack of appreciation for the issues.

BUT – once the gas is all gone, it won’t because of bikes. It will be because of 747’s, A380’s, locomotives, Mac’s, Kenworths, and most importantly – Escalades & all the other 6000lb SUV’s that no one needs. Diesel is better, but that technology – more or less – hasn’t changed in a hundred years!
Conversely, if we manage to preserve it, it won’t be because of overpriced, unaffordable, zero practicality, 2 wheel labs. (I know every little bit helps)

Hybrid is big in the auto industry, and that’s where the big gains will be made…the cars that are driven millions of miles every day.

Sooner or later that will filter down and produce a bike that is
a) Able to travel as far as you want to go
b) Not cost as much as a decent car, much less a really nice bike
c) Be FUN. And that’s the big one.

The current (yuk yuk) batch of electric bikes offers the first two of those to a zero degree, and the third will be a temporary novelty at best.
Endurance is definitely a short circuit … (Sorry…couldn’t “resist”…must be the gas fumes)

In developing countries with gas at $8 gal. and people standing on each other’s shoulders, economical bikes are a necessary way of life…strictly utilitarian.

Motorcycles – in the Western world – exist for three reasons, fun, passion & performance. No one over here cares their bike uses less (maybe!) gas than their car. ..I know mine doesn’t. Yes, we’re spoiled rotten …we’re also off Saturday morning for a 500 ~ 600 km ride. No strings or extensions cords attached.

May 10, 2012 at 12:03 pm
(4) Dabber says:

It’s a worthy effort! The bike they a showing came from the result of lots of hard work. They ran a similar bike at Isle of Mann. I ride my motorcycle to work daily. This would make a great second bike once the price comes down. New technology is always expensive up front, so I won’t poo poo it. I like the all of the above strategy.

May 10, 2012 at 4:24 pm
(5) Joe says:

I’m with Pete, electrics are not worth it. Some other things he didn’t mention were that the batteries on these vehicles do not last forever. Just like a cell phone battery or laptop battery they wear out and that will factor in big with resale values. Is a 5 yr old bike like this with only a few more yrs or months left in it’s battery worth anything? Will they give you $8,000 or $800. As a consumer buying a used vehicle like this how are you going to gauge how much life is left in the battery’s. Some battery’s wear out a lot faster then others. With a Internal combustion motor you can look at the wear and tear of a motor (oil, does it leak,burn it. Sound of the motor. Miles on the odometer, etc.) Example is the Karm Fisher car, lots of problems with them so far. The Chevy Volt not selling well either, people do not want these vehicles and the government will not be able to make them buy them. Second, electricity is made from mostly fossil fuels, some like coal are worse the gasoline. One power plant burning coal is worse then thousands of cars. Not to mention that if even less then 1/2 the vehicles on the road were electric the power plants would not be able to make enough electricity. I’m kind of shocked more research isn’t invested in hydrogen fuel cells. Refuel times are good and range is also. Till a better system is proven and up and running I will buy ICM vehicles.

May 11, 2012 at 6:42 pm
(6) Pete says:

I know this is a MC forum, but if you love motorsports, this will make every one reflect.
I was saddened to hear just now that Carroll Shelby died today.
He was the epitome of a gentlemen, genius, visionary, legend, the definition of American Hot Rodding, and a generous, decent man.

May 15, 2012 at 5:49 pm
(7) protomech says:

We’re never going to run out of oil. We’ve just run out of cheap oil, and barring speculation the overwhelming pricing trend will be up, up, up. More opportunities for production open up once the oil suppliers can be confident of a higher price; but be prepared for pay out the nose for it.

Brammo claims 1500 full discharge / charge cycles on their batteries, which is about 100k miles in mixed riding. Probably the batteries will die to calendar aging rather than miles .. figure 8-10 years, but only time will tell.

Regarding environmental impact of electricity .. sure, TANTSAAFL. In AL, charging my bike generates about as much CO2 as a 90 mpg gas bike. And we get most of our power from coal. As the grid cleans up, or in states that get more power from nuclear / hydro / wind, electrics are substantially less dirty.

May 20, 2012 at 5:44 pm
(8) Joe says:

Protomech , I understand that the batteries MAY LAST 8-10 yrs but what then? My bike is about 8 yrs old and may be worth around $4k but when an electric vehicle batteries are shot (90% of the value of the vehicle) what is it worth, scrap metal ? Also, who says the grid is cleaning up? It’s as dirty as it has ever been. I say lets clean the grid FIRST then the vehicles. Won’t see that I’m guessing, power company’s have government in there pockets that’s why you won’t see it.

May 21, 2012 at 3:47 pm
(9) Dabber says:

Lets do the same thing over and over again and not try anything new. lets all get caught with our pants down when the price of fossil fuel goes through the roof and we are forced to just look at old bikes and remember the good ole days.
E motorcycles are just getting started and not yet able to compete side by side with the bikes we love.
I think it’s important to innovate always. Let’s not be naysayers. Most of these electric motorcycles have quick change batteries anyway.
Just think where we will be 10 years from now. I’ll still be riding motorcycles.

May 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm
(10) Brett954 says:

Well, I am not sure why they havent come out with a hybrid motorcycle yet.. Why are we jumping directly into a full on electric motorcycle? Its not worth a damn.. I commute 87 miles to work one way, every day…. I wouldnt even be able to make it to work on a full charge!
And as far as battery life, yes, they are rated for such and such.. but we all know that in order to preserve the full battery life of a battery you must treat it properly and by properly I mean using it until it is nearly depleted and then giving a full charge. There is no way this would work out, as you would ride 30 miles and only have 30 more miles left on it, limiting you to a 30 mile or less ride for your next ride before you fully recharge it.
Kudos to the companies for building such a bike but why release it to the general public yet? At $17,000, its better left to the celebrities as they can afford such a thing, along with their SUVs, porches, lambos, and other gas guzzling vehicles to ride while their environment friendly e scooters are charging..

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